Integration

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There has been recent debate on marketing blogs about the role of the “creative technologist.”  As if technologists were not creative in their own right.  Edward Broches of Mullen and Scott Prindle of Crispin are active discoursers.  A big marketer and agency challenge today is finding and creating a central point around which the creative department, media department, strategy dept. and technologists can array.   As a brand planner, I vote strategy. Messrs. Brooches and Prindle, it seems, choose a coder comfortable in the sunlight and art galleries.

But upon further thought, I’m going in a different direction.  I am rolling with a creative analytics person. Talk about head down types.  Any new agency worth its fee has analytics people in pods around the shop.  They are overworked, natively digital and not particularly creative – though they may snowboard.  What they aren’t, are invited to the creative briefing meetings. And if they are, tend to be the quite dude in the corner.

These Analgesics (analysts who can find the pain) are seers of patterns. They may not be able to come up with a selling idea, TV spot or first user experience, but they can and should be in the room and allowed to contribute. Perhaps not the central figure, but in the room. Analgesics munch numbers like nobody’s business, plus they are real consumers.  Bring them to the table. Let them talk without being derided.

Analyzing success metrics, seeing patterns and predicting patterns will be the new black in creative development.  Peaceful!

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It was reported by Stuart Elliott in today’s New York Times that Lee Jeans is using Mike Rowe as its spokesperson.  Mike Rowe, the guy from the Ford commercials, is the star of America’s Dirtiest Jobs (or whatever it’s called).  His fame comes not from the show, which probably does a 2.2 rating on Cable, but from walking around Ford showrooms and using his sing-songy manly voice. 

 The fact that Mr. Rowe is the news of the Lee Jean advertising story shows how shallow the strategic idea really is. Moreover, Lee has 3 agencies carving up the work: Arnold Worldwide, GroupM (for media), and Barkley of Kansas City for PR and didge. The total budget is about $10M and you know a chuck of that goes to Mr. Rowe. 

So let’s recap. National challenger brand. No identifiable, differentiated brand strategy (comfort a man would love?). A spokesperson famous for selling cars. A limited “jump ball” budget shared by 3 partners.  And a product with little to talk about. About right?

The Fix.

Arnold is actually a good shop with breadth.  Lee should go all Joel Ewanick on itself and give them the entire business.  Then turn Amber Finlay loose, Arnold’s new head of digital strategy. I bet she could multiply the dollars.  Lee needs a little brand spanking and, if allowed, Arnold is the kind of shop that can do it. Was there a buy-out clause in Mr. Rowe’s contract?  Peace!

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Where do key marketing insights come from? Where does creative inspiration come from? Where do sales come from? Nice questions, no?

Key market insights come from people (consumers or business buyers) and market data. Market data, however, is just an aggregation of consumer activity and the patterns they throw off. 

Creative inspiration, in this machine that is the marketing and agency business, comes from the creative brief. Where on the brief?  Many would like think it jumps from the boiled down “selling idea,” “key thought,” or “engagement trigger” — whatever it’s called these days. But realistically it comes from anywhere on the brief.  Inspiring creative people can’t be mapped, it just happens. People are complicated.

And sales? Sales come from stores, catalogs and websites but really from the hands and minds of people.  

So duh, the common denominator in this serial journey to a sale is people.  The most effective marketing teams are those who make all three legs of this stool work together.

This is your silo issue, not revenue by agency type or department.  It’s not about break though work. It’s not about sales spikes. Or the most powerful media tactic or database.  It’s about getting people to see patterns, inspire others, and learn what sells in a specific category – then forming a community around the brand that fosters those activities. Agencies come and go. Campaigns come and go. Communities (unless you’re the Aztecs) not so much. Peace!

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Earlier this year I attended an “integration” meeting.  In the room with the client were representatives from its many roster shops: the AOR, consumer promotions, public relations, trade, digital and media.  Advertising creative was presented so, clearly, lots of work had been done before integration was undertaken.  Our team assignment was to brainstorm the target psyche and ways to translate the AOR’s creative to our various disciplines.  

This is new world stuff here. The lead agency who sponsored the session even agreed they had not done anything like this before – asking each participating shop to provide feedback as to the process.  Prior to the meeting we shared an experiential assignment and, so, had common ground upon which to share (and bond). In addition to clients, the disciplines represented in the room were creative, account planning, account management and media.  The latter had a few minutes to walk us through target consumer media habits. 

I liked it.  Lots of really smart people sharing from across disciplines; no one afraid to speak up. This is progress people! We all got along.  No darts tossed.  Lot’s of good, dedicated people caring about the assignment rather than their agencies and asses.  It was quite harmonious. The “go dos” after the meeting were to be compiled by the lead agency, and turned over to all attendees to move forward. Not perfect but a very good start at integration. It takes a recession. Peace!  

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